AAA: Gas hike end is in sight

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Roy Higgs kept his receipts during the volatile period for gas prices in 2008 and 2009. At the height of gas prices in 2008, a gallon of regular unleaded fuel was $3.91 on July 25. Less than six months later, the price was $2.59 less expensive at $1.32 a gallon.

POST FALLS - If gas prices haven't topped off yet, AAA expects them to before hitting $4 a gallon.

While prices continue to climb about a dime a week - they averaged $3.43 a gallon in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday and a nickel more in Post Falls - the end is likely in sight, said Dave Carlson, AAA Idaho spokesman.

"Given what we're seeing at the moment, it's consistent with AAA's earlier predictions that U.S. pump prices should top out in the neighborhood of $3.75, barring unforeseen events," Carlson said.

Janet Adams, who filled up in Post Falls on Wednesday, said it's about time there's talk of leveling off.

"I just don't know how the average family in Idaho can do it," she said. "If they're not cutting somehow, they'd better start. This is getting pretty scary. But I still think $4 won't be unheard of."

Roy Higgs of Coeur d'Alene saved his gas receipts from July 2008 when prices were $3.92 to January 2009 when they came down to $1.33 as a reminder to not get too worked up about prices.

"In less than six months, that's a $2.59 difference," Higgs said.

Higgs said the prices won't force him to make travel changes.

"I still have to go to work; I still have to go to church," he said. "But I will take my van instead of my pickup to Spokane."

Crude oil prices during the past week have continued to weigh the off-setting impacts of uncertainties to both future supply and future demand, Carlson said.

"The markets have experienced a mixed bag of signals in the tug-of-war over oil prices," Carlson said.

Oil prices have climbed again to the $104 level, which was the closing price on Tuesday.

Concern over developing crises at Japanese nuclear power plants put downward pressure on crude oil prices, but a United Nations decision last Thursday to approve the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya sent crude oil prices soaring. Then on Friday, a ceasefire agreement dampened the buying spree momentarily.

One thing is more certain for much of the past two months: Market stability involving oil is short-lived, changing on every whim and news headline.

"Closer to home, gas prices have been stable because most of the increases in oil prices have been factored into pump prices," Carlson said.

Carlson said some states will see average prices above $4. Hawaii is already there at $4.12. Alaska is at $3.99 and California is at $3.97.

But he said he doesn't expect Idaho to get there.

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